Sitting or Standing?

March 18, 2007 at 07:10 PM · What are your thoughts about practicing while sitting vs. standing?

Replies (63)

March 18, 2007 at 07:27 PM · I feel like you create a lot more tension by sitting. If I have to do something very repetitive I'll sit, but most of the time I try to stand.

March 18, 2007 at 07:51 PM · I stand most of the time, as this is how I play in front of my teacher and during my occassional solo performance. I also sitting on a gym ball during some practice hours, as doing so I get clear tense signals from my legs and joints when I'm out of balance.

March 18, 2007 at 11:01 PM · Greetings,

I think this is actually a more significant question than it is often given credit for. I do use the rule of thumb that if one is going to play the stuff standing then practice standing, if sitting then sit.

However, as far as is posisble I have switched to standing. I have come to belive that it is much more helpful in strengthenign and integrating the body for playing.

Cheers,

Buri

March 18, 2007 at 11:13 PM · My lower spine sucks. I'm sitting.

March 19, 2007 at 12:06 AM · Ray, I was recently told that if you keep your nose down all the time you'll never have back problem. I don't think it's as simple as this, but not a bad policy.

March 19, 2007 at 01:43 AM · Greetings

keeping your nose down is quite posisble with misue of the primary control so that comment is not corretc.In fatc I`ve just tried it and it is extremely dangerous. It increase stension markedly if thehea dis misaligned. I hope it didn`t conme from an Alexander Teacher. A more importnat thing is the eyes lead.The nose would never lead, ubless it is towards home cooked prune crumble,

cheers,

buri

March 19, 2007 at 01:48 AM · uh oh, it was from my AT teacher but she got it from a doctor rather than her AT training. I'll tell her what you just said if you don't mind. She is a very receptive teacher and I think she'd appreciate the feedback.

March 19, 2007 at 01:53 AM · Ray, my lower spine sucks too, and it used to ache whenever I practiced standing. But when I switched to not using a shoulder rest it involved a major postural shift and no more pain. Maybe adjustments to your setup will help. My impression is that I can pull a bigger sound when standing, but that may be wishful thinking.

March 19, 2007 at 01:57 AM · Yixi Zhang wrote, quote: "Ray, I was recently told that if you keep your nose down all the time you'll never have back problem. "

Ahh, but if you do this, you will never make first chair! As we all know, in order to become concertmaster one must practise turning one's nose up, as often as possible.

bu-dum-pum.

March 19, 2007 at 03:22 AM · Both - If I stand for a long period without walking, my lower back gets sore. My lessons frequently go well beyond the scheduled hour so I stand a while and sit a while. As for practicing I do both. Since performances are usually done seated it's also good to learn good seated posture while playing.

March 19, 2007 at 03:31 AM · Greetings,

Yixi, I can see where it comes from and there are certainly case swhre it would be beneficial. Try the experiment. Drop your head down and back like you have lost your primary control. This is where most peope are at most of the time. Now form there drop your nose. What do you fele happenign in you neck?

The point from which oine executes the wish that the hea dgoes forward and up is the balance point of skull on top of spine, as you know. That is located by sticking a finger in the holow beind each ear. If they were a pencil goign through your brain the muddle of the pencil is the balance @point. Its much further forward than most people belive.

Cheers,

Buri

March 19, 2007 at 04:14 AM · Greetings,

spekaing of noses, one of my adult studnets is now ready for Elgar six easy pieces. I ordered them for her and handed them to her yesterday. She promptly burst out laughing. I asked what she wa sthinking and she said she found Elgar`s nose (his photo is on the cover of the Bosworthe dition) hilarious.

Fortunately she liked the pieces.

Cheers

Buri

March 19, 2007 at 09:18 AM · If you stand, try not to miss the bowl.

March 19, 2007 at 10:08 AM · Lift the freakin' seat!

And put it back down!

March 19, 2007 at 12:53 PM · do sitting vs standing create a different sound?

(umm, forget about the godly perlman for a second)

March 19, 2007 at 01:47 PM · I never perform sitting, so I practice standing all the time! I don't remember the last time I played sitting and I just tried it and feels strange and restricted. Interesting!

Peter

March 19, 2007 at 01:50 PM · I never perform standing, so I just tried practicing sitting and realized that I need to work (despirately) on my posture while sitting and much of my pain during rehearsals and concerts might abate.

Jennifer Warren

March 19, 2007 at 07:03 PM · Interesting thread, and topic.

I have been playing violin less than a year. Have pretty much always practised sitting down, while reading emails, watching a movie etc (I particularly like to play along with a movie's soundtrack, which helps train my ear & improv skills)

After reading this thread, and knowing Menuhin's recommended stance, I have begun to prctise standing upright. I must say, I can play better this way. I find that I am able to move more, which adds color to the sound. As Peter said, I now find sitting a bit "restrictive."

Also, somehow it helps to have the lower back muscles supporting the hold. I can't explain it, but I can definitely feel it. Very nice.

March 19, 2007 at 11:30 PM · Emily,

Someday, somewhere, somehow, some woman is going to have to explain that toilet seat thing to me. What do you ladies do, enter the bathroom in the middle of the night, forget to turn on the light, and fall in?

-just one more thing I'll never understand about women....

March 19, 2007 at 10:08 PM · I stand when I practice. Sometimes I like to practice standing with my right foot propped up on my left inner thigh (flamingo style). I have no idea why. I don't teach this to my students. It's a technique reserved for people who were flamingos in a past life.

March 20, 2007 at 03:48 AM · If you stand it's much better for your posture and your back. I sit when I practice(just kidding) I stand.

March 20, 2007 at 05:49 AM · Buri, I see nothing funny about Elgar`s nose. He has a fine nose that we folks from Asia can't grow no matter how hard we try:)

March 20, 2007 at 06:21 AM · Something about the flamingo position I like, but I can't really put my finger on it. Did Jennifer Beals stand like that in Flashdance? I should rent it.

March 20, 2007 at 06:30 AM · Here is what Menuhin wrote in his book "Violin and viola": "Every violinist should practise in all three positions -- sitting, seeted and sometimes squatting." He also holds that standing "achieves the greatest swing and attack, and in which the violinist commands his audiance to the fullest extent of his power."

I wonder how many of us practice squatting? I tried and find it quite hard, but not as hard as practicing lying down on my back.

March 20, 2007 at 06:47 AM · Great! now i can play the violin on the bog....

March 20, 2007 at 11:08 AM · Allan Speers, it's the expectation of the comfort and safety of smooth, flat plastic, combined with the surprise of icicle porcelain, slightly damp perhaps, and always sticky with germs. My arse slips down a bit, as though being eaten by a snake.

I ask you, where lies the mystery in this aversion? Or do you personally prefer being swallowed by a porcelain potty-mouth?

March 20, 2007 at 11:06 AM · Jim, you are thinking of Jethro Tull. He's not quite as cute, nor as pink.

March 20, 2007 at 11:13 AM · That's not Jennifer Beals singing Aqualung?

March 21, 2007 at 03:04 AM · I try to practice standing; however I do have a stool which I will lean against and end up sitting upon if tired. I do like sitting up higher rather than in a traditional chair.

March 21, 2007 at 03:55 PM · Last year I practiced almost exclusively sitting. This year more standing. It really depends on the level of health....

If one is nauseus or tired or weak or anything that would render standing while practicing not a good idea or too taxing, sitting is a good alternative and allows one to practice for awhile anyway.

I was taught to stand and during lessons usually a teacher requires one to stand. But I have wondered myself if one is most often playing in orchestra, shouldn't one practice the music how it is going to be performned...ie. sitting?

Both sitting and standing have their strengths and weaknesses and reasons of caution. Pains develop in different muscles...

Sals,

JW

April 2, 2007 at 07:09 PM · i always played and practiced standing, only at chamber performances i would be sitting but it would not bother me much, at most it would make me feel uncomfortable but that was all.

now i started playing in an orchestra after a year's break and i have a lot of pain when i practice sitting for too long. the funny thing is most of the pain is in my left thigh. i must be doing something very wrong :P

April 2, 2007 at 08:05 PM · I always stand when practicing at home. If I practice chamber music, of course I sit. I recently played a blues gig at a little restaurant in Baltimore. We had a short rehearsal beforehand. I was sitting.

April 7, 2007 at 12:42 PM · My general rule of thumb is that, if there are no particular health issues, to practice sitting what I would perform sitting (orchestra, chamber music), and practice standing what I would perform standing (solo). I feel that there is more freedom of motion standing, and that it is easier to project that way. If we were to practice orch. and chamber music standing all the time, when we'd first sit down to rehearse, it could feel very constricting. On the other hand, if we practice solo material sitting all the time, we might lack the endurance to stand for the length of an entire concerto/sonata/recital program.

I have exceptions to this approach. If I'm working on solo material at a relatively early stage of serious preparation, and I'm making lots of preliminary decisions about bowings, fingerings, etc., with a fair amount of penciling-in involved, I find it more comfortable to sit, and put the violin and bow on my lap when I stop to write. Also, if I'm practicing 4-6 hours a day, as I recently did prior to my recital, I will certainly sit down whenever I feel the need. Since I'll often vary the order of the material I practice, I don't end up getting used to playing the same thing only standing or sitting.

April 9, 2007 at 05:12 PM · That's good advice. I always practice standing, simply because I prefer standing. The only time I sit is when I play with the quartet or on certain days when my feet are killing me.

April 10, 2007 at 05:34 AM · I prefer playing the violin standing ..it helps ease tension in the back and neck for me,sitting is reserved for just chamber music ..:)

AN

April 10, 2007 at 06:03 AM · Hmmm, recently after about 30 min of playing standing the middle part of the right side of my back will begin aching.

Any solutions? I am sure my posture is messed up somehow.

April 10, 2007 at 06:05 AM · I have an adult student who usually practices standing. He says that when he tries to play sitting in a chair, his body feels more constrained and tense. Any suggestions for him?

April 10, 2007 at 11:04 AM · years ago, some did a simple but potentially painful experiment with some starving med students hungry for a few bucks.

they stuck some pressure probes deep inside the the lumbar discs of those subjects. yes, they were probably alllowed to scream.

readings were taken from different positions: standing, sitting, and lying flat. of the 3, sitting recorded the highest intradiscal pressure, followed by standing, then, lying flat.

so, between standing and sitting, if you have issues with lower back dysfunction, standing SHOULD be more comfortable (especially if you take into consideration that when we sit most of us slouch).

now, fyi, lying flat flat versus lying flat but with feet planted and knee bent (think doing crunches), there is less pressure on the low back with the latter because the lumbar lordosis will be not exaggerated.

April 10, 2007 at 12:40 PM · Hi, I prefer to practice standing, and generally have my students do so. But since I play in an orchestra, a quartet and a jam where we typically sit, as do most of my students, I think it is important to spend some time working out how to sit comfortably, and how to manage the violin and bow, and how to read at an angle w/o assuming a different playing position. Sue

April 10, 2007 at 09:22 PM · Greetings,

Armand, try standing in a doorway with your spine against the frame so that you are facing across the door space. Practice playing and bending your knees so that you slide up and down the doorframe at the same time. The back stays in contact with the frame. Also try leaning back against a wall and playing.

Another excellent exercise is to bend over from the hips so that your hea dalmost touches your knee while playing. This is also a very powerful tone developer. It releases stres sin the right armpit area in particular.

Incidentally I teach a lot of my younger stuidnets to play lying on their backs.

Cheers,

Buri

April 11, 2007 at 12:50 AM · I'm a stander. Usually I hate just standing - funny that it is so natural for my practice time.

Buri, was it you who once advocated pausing to tuck your hips under (bending the knees ever so slightly)? This is an old ballet tricks and it does wonders for the posture and a tired spine. (I'm thinking the suggestion of leaning against the door frame and moving up and down while bending knees is the same thing, although if their feet are right at the wall/frame, the knees might jut out forwards, beyond the ankles, and that probably wouldn't be a great thing either.)

Butt-tucking. It's all in the butt-tucking. I'm convinced a lot of life's physical, social and metaphysical imbalances would be solved if we all just did a little more butt-tucking.

((Off Terez runs go to make bumper stickers out of this...))

April 11, 2007 at 12:51 AM · Um, that's tuck with a T. I just reread what I posted and it made me feel very nervous indeed. How about "hip-tucking?" Or increase the font size of my post. Please don't flag me - it was innocent, honest!

April 11, 2007 at 01:06 AM · Hahaha, I saw that too...it shouldn't have made my day, but it really did.

Can you describe this 'ballet trick' a little more? I am having trouble getting a visual in my head.

April 11, 2007 at 02:17 AM · I love to play standing and the resultant freedom the violin offers. This was not really possible with classical guitar, and of course not so with the piano, either. This is one of the things I love about the violin. I sit some, but I stand a good 95% or more of the time,and sometimes I stroll the house violin in hand as I play whatever it is I have in mind to play.

April 11, 2007 at 02:56 AM · Armand,

Glad I was able to make your day. : )

On this:

>Can you describe this 'ballet trick' a little more? I am having trouble getting a visual in my head.

You're standing there practicing, yes? Your spine starts curving, your butt (now I know that the spam block won't stop me from posting that naughty word...) is kinda sticking out, just a bit, like it does for lots of us upright folk, and your shoulders might even be going back so that your making a parentheses mark with your upper body, and boom, you've got back problems, sciatica problems, joint problems, because in the end, we just weren't wired to be upright so much.

So. You stop. You uncurve that curve you've just noticed for the first time in many years. You straighten your body, but then take it one step further. You bend your knees slightly, but not so much that the knees are poking way out. Basically, you're just taking the brittleness out of them. Then it's as if someone has their hands on your hips and (if they're behind you), jutting them forward. Or, if you want the naughtier version, you could always imagine them in front of you (a la Dirty Dancing), they're drawing them toward you. And your butt tucks under. And soooooo much pressure is released from that poor exhausted back and spine. And suddenly your gut sucks in as a result. And this too is a very good thing. And your shoulders say, "Hey. It's a party. I'll join in." And they align so that they're just above your hips.

In my early ballet days, the teacher would say, "It's like you're a marionette. The string is above you and then your shoulders relax, the hips tuck under, the gut comes in and go for it - go dance your wooden little legs out."

So. Good little trick, and I find myself doing it at least 3 or 4 times during my 45 minute daily practice. And lo and behold, I stop hunching (this, granted, was not a variable in the aforementioned scenario, but then again I've always liked to be a girl who did things slightly differently), the back feels better and it's just a lot of fun to keep standing there, practicing the violin.

April 11, 2007 at 02:58 AM · Though teachers support standing, and I always stand--I can remember the two times I sat down, I think there's simply room for whatever works. If my knees and hips continue on their current path, I can easily imagine sitting to play, but for the time being I prefer standing. I find it lets my whold body flow with the music. However, if I don't stop looking like Celtic Woman when I start getting in to something, I may make myself sit for awhile in lieu of my Milstein gold braided silk.

April 11, 2007 at 03:25 AM · >If my knees and hips continue on their current path, I can easily imagine sitting to play...

Unlock your knees, maybe? Hips - hmmm. Got me there. Except for yoga, the final cure-all. Seriously.

>However, if I don't stop looking like Celtic Woman when I start getting in to something...

Um, some clarification, some image to illustrate? Or wait... will it give me bad dreams? Are you all scruffy on the face and thinking about red tresses and a long dress? Oh, dear...

April 11, 2007 at 11:37 PM · Standing if i can help it.

Sometimes i do the back against the wall thing. It's good for the posture.

May 25, 2007 at 06:11 AM · Hasn't anybody mentioned using a bar stool...? My first teacher did that and it worked really well. I've always had one around in my practice room...it is great for when you don't want to stand anymore or want to work and re-work a difficult passage.

May 25, 2007 at 10:54 AM · I personally can do seven hours a day or more standing, but I try to practice orchestra or chamber music while sitting, because I'll be sitting whenever I play or perform orchestral or chamber music.

May 26, 2007 at 02:25 AM · Standing here mostly... If exhausted I'll sit a little.

May 26, 2007 at 04:16 AM · Greetings,

hasn`t any tried lying on their back yet.

Opens up all sorts of possibilities.

Cheers,

Buri

May 26, 2007 at 04:22 AM · Usually,I practice sitting BUT I find easier to change string positions while standing..

While seated,things get in my way---like my legs especially and maybe the top of the kitchen table from time to time...

"just play"----many people use this quote,I'm not sure who the originator was,but it's true...

May 26, 2007 at 05:00 PM · I use a three step, step-stool that has a padded top rung. I can use the lowest rung to elevate a leg. So I don't really sit or stand. It's like Christopher Robbin who doesn't stop at the top or bottom of the stairs. When I get position bored I usualy go stand in another room which also varies auditory feedback. I probably average about 2 hrs/day.

Buri, I'm curious when you play on your back are you awake or asleep? If you've perfected the latter, please share your technique. I started as an adult and would love to make up for lost time. ;-)

Mary

May 26, 2007 at 09:32 PM · One of my students practices while seated on a Swedish exercise ball. He says that he sits on it whenever he can because it improves his posture (makes him sit straight). I find them very comfortable to sit on because they take the pressure off of my lower back, which is weak. Hmmmmm. I wonder how much they cost.

May 27, 2007 at 10:59 PM · Mattius?

May 27, 2007 at 11:58 PM · "Another excellent exercise is to bend over from the hips so that your hea dalmost touches your knee while playing. This is also a very powerful tone developer."

Buri - How long should one play like that?

Ihnsouk

May 28, 2007 at 01:28 AM · Greetings,

not long, the blood tends to rush to yur head....

I was teaching this to a veyr flexible colleague of mine once who is smewhat Junoesque and has a predilection for tight jeans. We were both bent over playing the Bach double together when the new condcuter walked through the doors t be greeted by our rear ends. He had a somewhat bemused expression on his face for much of the ensuing rehearsal.

Cheers,

Buri

May 28, 2007 at 02:03 AM · Cartoon material!

Ihnsouk

May 29, 2007 at 03:41 AM · ello!

For students (like myself), it's better to stand while playing...though you HAVE to sit in orchestras...but that's a different story.

I prefer standing, because for me, I somehow play better...I'm not sure why...but sometimes, i sit also...Well, I guess it depends on what you like. But remember, NEVER slouch when you are sitting!!!

May 31, 2007 at 07:53 PM · I think the point about sit is HOW ARE YOU SEATED.People use to be O.K. stan up, but if you are in a good position seated, I think you have to be as good as standin up at least

May 31, 2007 at 11:14 PM · Greetings,

that`s right. Firts of all the hips have to be higher than the knees. Also one has ot be balanced on the Sitz bones which most people are not. Alexander Technique is the fastest way to resolve this kind of stuff.

Cheers,

Buri

June 1, 2007 at 06:31 PM · I practice sitting on an exercise ball most of the time now. I think it was Yixi who said that her Alexander teacher recommended it. I find it to be very comfortable and it does release a lot of pressure from my lower back. When I get tired of sitting on the ball, I stand.

--I went to a Barrage concert a few years ago (have any of you heard of them?) and they played on stage bouncing (while seated) on exercise balls. I figured that would be difficult to do and keep a nice sound. I tried it, it is most definently difficult!!

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